Christmas ~ it comes every year and brings with it tinseled trees, bright lights, carols, crèches, joy and laughter. Christmas also brings Christmas music ~ at or around Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, grumpy bumper to bumper drivers, fights in the toy aisle, and fights in the TV aisle, anger and sadness.
Charlie Brown faces the same dichotomy in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Lucy, Linus, Sally, and even Snoopy are excited for Christmas and all the joy the season brings. Everyone but Charlie Brown. The commercialism has drowned out the magic. He heads to the doctor, skillfully employed by Lucy for the low, low price of a nickel. He confesses that he does not share in the joy of the Christmas season. He knows that he should be happy, but he just can’t make himself be happy. The great doctor Lucy promptly remedies Charlie Brown’s problem ~ he needs to be involved in the process of Christmas and declares him the new director of the Christmas play. He was not so optimistic. I must confess most of the time I feel like he does. The magic of Christmas is an emotion that tends to elude me. Yet Lucy may have a good point.
The Christmas magic that many hail is not in the tinseled trees and carols, not in the hot cocoa or candy canes, or the hope of what Santa will bring. It reminds me of how I feel sometimes in praise and worship. It is hard to really press into worship with a song I don’t particularly like. I have to really work to change my focus from the song to the One who deserves all worship and praise ~ regardless of what song is playing. In truth, my flesh may not like the song because I am more focused on myself and my wants, instead of focusing on the Lord and who He is. If I get involved in the worship all I see is Him.
Christmas is a song. When my focus is on the things I don’t like, the grumpy traffic jams leading into the mall, fights in the toy aisle, the anger and sadness, the hurt and loss, I become completely self-centered, and the devil is given a foothold. I am robbed of my joy because I have taken my eyes off Him. When I have reached the point of focusing on what I don’t like in the season, when I feel sad or withdrawn from Christmas, I turn my eyes to Him and His goodness, and reflect on why He came.
God has given me so much to be grateful for. About a mile or so from my home, a beautiful seventeen-year-old girl just lost the battle for her life because of an angry young man who believed the only way to reconcile his anger was to gun down those that he felt offended him. My children are safe and well tonight. I am not spending my Christmas in ICU praying for one more day with my children. It is not easy ~ pain is readily at hand attempting to take what joy remains. This is the first Christmas without my dad, and his absence is deeply felt. When I am not having a great day and sadness seems to get the best of me, one song can stop me in my tracks… Oh Holy Night:
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born; O night, O Holy Night, O night divine! O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
I imagine what that night must have been like. The shepherds must have been overwhelmed as they witnessed the angelic host heralding the most beautiful news the earth would ever receive. The angels I am sure had a celebration in heaven that eye has not seen or ear has heard. Mary and Joseph ~ what must have been stirring in their hearts as the Messiah slipped unnoticed into the world. Did the animals recognize their Creator ~ the one that held the world together ~ in the face of a newborn baby? Worship Him! Fall on your knees! For this is a holy night indeed!
The magic of Christmas is that God looked down on an evil, sinful world and instead of annihilating the world and its inhabitants, He loved ~ and sent His Son to redeem it all. He came in a humble stable with only livestock and some shepherds for a welcoming committee. The world that God loved slept ~ unaware of the miracle that silent night, when Mercy and Truth met and Righteousness and Peace kissed. In true worship, the magic of Christmas need not elude anymore.